Textkit Logo

Impersonal Verbs

Here's where you can discuss all things Ancient Greek. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get translation help and more!

Impersonal Verbs

Postby treesliveinforrests » Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:10 am

Hi all,

I'm just working through Mastronarde's Introduction to Attic Greek and wanted to clear something up for myself.

He gives a word, ἀνάγκη, saying that it can be function with ἐστί as an impersonal verb that takes either a dat. of reference or acc. object + infinitive to complete its meaning (so this question would also apply to other impersonal constructions that meet this criterion).

So basically I would just like to clarify this, do both,

διά τὸν πρὸς τοὺς βάρβαρους πολέμον ἀνάγκη τοῖς πολίτοις πάσχειν

and

διά τὸν πρὸς τοὺς βάρβαρους πολέμον ἀνάγκη τοῦς πολίτους πάσχειν

have essentially the same meaning, only in the first, τοῖς πολίτοις is a dative of reference that modifies ἀνάγκη ἐστί and in the second, τοῦς πολίτους is the subject of the infinitive πάσχειν?

Could one do the same thing with the impersonal verb ἐξέστι?

ἐξέστι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις μὴ ἀποθνῄσκειν.

ἐξέστι τοὺς άνθτρώπους μὴ ἀποθνῄσκειν.

Additionally, some of the of the impersonal verbs that he gives, such as δεῖ can only take acc. + inf, whereas δοκεῖ can only take dat. + inf., and πρέπει can take both. Why is this so?

Forgive me for any errors I've made or if this question is in any way confusing. I'm still only a few months in with this Ancient Greek thing.
treesliveinforrests
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:54 am

Re: Impersonal Verbs

Postby Markos » Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:15 pm

χαῖρε.

I would say that the accusative and the dative with impersonal verbs have the same meaning. There is interchange in the NT manuscripts between the dative and accusative with ἔξεστιν, for example Mk 2:26. Perhaps this is part of the overall loss of the dative which drops out altogether in Modern Greek.
Markos
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1382
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:07 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Impersonal Verbs

Postby treesliveinforrests » Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:22 pm

Hi Markos,

Thank you very much for your response. It makes sense to me that they would have the same meaning, but then I'm also wondering why Mastronarde gives certain impersonal verbs as only being completed with dat. + inf., others acc. + inf., and finally others that can take both. Is it just something that needs to be remembered along with the verb, or is there some reasoning that can be applied.
treesliveinforrests
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:54 am

Re: Impersonal Verbs

Postby Markos » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:28 pm

Is it just something that needs to be remembered along with the verb, or is there some reasoning that can be applied.


Hi, again.

That's a good question.

In English we say "It behooves a scholar to weigh all the evidence" but "It is fitting FOR a scholar to weigh all the evidence" and "It is incumbent ON a scholar to weigh all the evidence" but "it is required OF a scholar THAT he weigh all the evidence." They all mean MORE OR LESS the same thing, and any difference in meaning is so fine that no two fluent English speakers will agree on precisely how and why they differ. I suppose some reasoning or rule or historical development could be brought in to explain the differences.

But here is the thing, I don't know what the rule is and I don't really care. I have used and understood all these expressions without every thinking about the rules. Almost everyone attains perfect fluency in their native language without every analyzing it except in the broadest strokes, and those who analyze their native tongue more deeply do not become better readers or writers. Analysis, that is, has no connection to fluency in English and I don't see why it would in Greek.

So, yes, there may be reasoning behind why the dative here and why the accusative there. If knowing this reasoning would help me understand Greek better I would want to know it.

ἴθι πολλὰ χαίρων!
Markos
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1382
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:07 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Impersonal Verbs

Postby treesliveinforrests » Wed Mar 06, 2013 1:04 am

Thank you, Markos. Those certainly are some wise words.

I guess that I'm maybe looking at these rules in too fine of detail, rather than just working to understand the meaning of the Greek phrase.
treesliveinforrests
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:54 am

Re: Impersonal Verbs

Postby pster » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:01 am

For future reference, I am the resident Mastronarde expert. If you give page numbers I will always reply.
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Impersonal Verbs

Postby treesliveinforrests » Wed Mar 06, 2013 6:07 pm

Thanks, pster. I'll definitely keep that in mind.
treesliveinforrests
Textkit Neophyte
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:54 am


Return to Learning Greek

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot], Yahoo [Bot] and 58 guests